Hands shaking, tears spilling—the phone fell to the floor with a crash. Everything had just collapsed, ended, right before her eyes. Her happy, little world was changing again, and she didn’t know where to turn…
“Hey, can we come—what have you done?!”
Cherry, Bella, Tasmin and Jillian were all stood in the doorway of Ceri’s bedroom, mouths hanging open like a shoal of goldfish. Usually, the room was neat and tidy; there was a place for everything. Every piece of furniture matched in style and colour, the theme being pastel and adorable. Sunlight normally filtered in through thin sheets of decorated netting, and when night fell, the shadows of well-crafted lampshades created the most beautiful scenes.
However, nothing in the room was recognisable. The net curtains had been torn off the rail, the lampshades had been attacked until it was impossible to decipher what they were, and every drawer and cupboard had had its contents scattered around the room.
“I’m redecorating,” Ceri announced matter-of-factly.
She didn’t even look like herself; her strawberry-blonde hair was in two messy bunches, her clothes were in the darkest shades she owned and her cheery disposition was non-existent. There wasn’t even a hint of a familiar grin across her features.
“Why?” Jillian asked, flabbergasted.
The four of them watched on in horror as Ceri completely destroyed the printed photo that they took together with Yuni and F.A.S.T’s members.
“What happened?” Cherry gasped quietly.
Ceri glanced over at her best friends, catching a glimpse of Cherry’s pained expression as she saw the paper tear right down the centre of her cheerful face.
So, she stopped.
The pieces of paper fell from her fists like confetti, and the waterworks started up again.
“I’m so sorry…”
In the same way her emotions were tumbling forward in a discordant panic, Ceri’s tale also came out. She blubbered on and on about how she had kissed Aaron on New Year’s Eve, what her feelings were regarding him, why he had come to stay for a week, and why she was such a mess right now, weeks after their last hug. The text she had received definitely wasn’t very positive.
[Hey Ceridwen, we need to stop before this gets away from us. We can’t be friends anymore because it’s gotten too far already. If you reply, I’ll have to block you.]
It had ripped her apart inside-out—Ceri had just had an important part, an important person, yanked out of her life, and she had a theory.
“I bet it was Yuni’s fault,” she grumbled, averting her puffy, red eyes. “Aaron was saying about how she was really controlling and apparently she didn’t like it when he spoke to me.”
“He was technically cheating on her with you.” Tasmin’s more mature opinion earnt her a glare from all around the room.
Ceri burst into yet another round of tears.
“Tasmin!” Bella gave her a nudge.
“It’s fine. She’s…she’s right,” she sobbed between broken sniffles and shaky, shallow breaths.
“Is there anything we can do to help?” Jillian asked earnestly.
“No, I need to do this on my own.”
“Well, we’re only a phone call away if you need us.”
She proceeded to usher the other girls out of the bombsite of a bedroom. It was a pain driving them all out, stubborn as they were, but eventually they were back outside in a spot of July sunshine.
“I didn’t see that coming,” Bella mumbled after she got bored of the dragging silence.
“Yeah, I didn’t realise what Yuni was really like,” Jillian added.
“It’s just a theory,” Tasmin reminded them all. “Maybe Aaron was just pretending to be the victim?”
“I don’t think so. I’ve seen him sober and drunk. He’s not the type,” the shortest of the group said.
Cherry was fidgeting with the hem of her denim shorts, shifting her weight from one foot to the other. “I’m going back in.”
“You can’t! She said she’ll do it on her own,” Bella protested.
“No one should be on their own when they’re upset, especially not Ceri. We’ve done it to her once; I’m not doing it again.” And with that, Cherry raced back into the block of flats, leaving her friends to consider the mistake they all made a few years before regarding Ceri’s sexuality.
Two weeks later, Ceri, Cherry, Jillian and Bella were sat on a mint-green duvet cover which laid over the top of beige sheets on a dull, wooden frame. The off-white desk had been painted to match the bed frame, although the brush strokes showed terribly. Jillian had donated a bright red rug with shimmering gold tassels to the room, and it filled up the floor space entirely. Nothing really matched—it looked as if the room had been torn out of a toddler’s colouring book—but it was the process that meant the most to Ceri. She had definitely cheered up little by little along the way with the help of all of her best friends. However, they were all starting to finally part ways; Tasmin was already in Oxford, searching for the cheapest living options in as close proximity to the famous university as possible. During her time there, she had opted to take an additional course and even attended for an extra year, all to set her up for a future career in teaching and lecturing, which she was just about to start in the coming September.
All the girls in the room were preparing for their final year of sixth form. Bella had decided to try much harder since her disappointing GCSEs, with hopes of a high-paying career related to criminal law. Following her mother’s ambitions and home-run business, Jillian was focused mostly on art, though continued with maths and economics for back up. Cherry stayed true to her wild spirit; she had taken up dance at the age of three, and continued it fourteen years later to express her inner-most thoughts and emotions. She rarely considered the consequences, as whatever the future brought was surely intended for her either way—or so she believed, anyway.
“I’m off to Wales to see my family next week.”
“How long for?” Bella asked, groaning as she propped herself up on her elbows.
Ceri drew in a deep breath. “Forever. I’m moving.”
“What?!” The three girls shrieked in unison for the second time that summer
“Well, it’s nicer—quieter—and my grandma is needed some extra help with her garden.”
“What about sixth form?” Jillian blurted out. “Don’t you want to be a playwright anymore?”
“Maybe? Sort of? I don’t know. My grandma said she can train me up in floristry instead, but I should have time for a drama course on the side if I change my mind.”
“You’re crazy…” Bella breathed, “I love it!” She threw her arms around Ceri’s shoulders.
The others soon joined in and they stayed in the group hug for a long while, ignoring even the announcement of biscuits being made by Ceri’s mum. Up until Cherry pulled back with tears streaming down her flushed cheeks, they refused to let go of one another.
“I’m going to miss you, Ceri—really, really miss you,” she sobbed.
Her tears set everyone else in the room off, and once again they were hugging, holding each other tight and burying faces in shoulders in an attempt to halt the heavy flow of tears. Among their unattractive sniffles and snorts, they managed to piece together an emergency sleepover for the next night. Even Thatcher, Tasmin’s closest friend since coming out, was planning to call in sick to work so he wouldn’t miss out on saying goodbye to Ceri. Bella and Jillian were already making mental lists of new bands for them to all explore, Tasmin was terribly distracted from the house share she was viewing, and Cherry was contemplating bringing one of her chickens for (questionable) chicken therapy. What mattered most is that they would all be together one last time before Ceri moved away.
This is the tenth part of a short story by Heather. Follow Heather on Instagram and Wattpad @centaur_h. Stay tuned for the next part!